Culture News

Here Are the 2016 Mayor's Arts Awards Winners

Several Phoenix artists were honored Thursday, October 13, during the Mayor’s Arts Awards, presented with Phoenix Center for the Arts at Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix.

Phoenix Center for the Arts is operated by a nonprofit arts organization with an education focus. Its downtown Phoenix venue includes a theater, art gallery, and studio/classroom spaces. The Center started the annual Mayor's Arts Awards with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton in 2012.

Community members nominated dance, music, language, and visual artists – as well as innovative organizations – for this year's awards. The night's big winners included dancer Nicole Olson, who recently was named best dancer in New Times' 2016 Best of Phoenix issue, and visual artist Ann Morton

Here’s a look at who was nominated, and who won, in each category. 

The Dance Artist Award went to Nicole Olson, who has choreographed and performed works presented in diverse venues such as {9} The Gallery, Phoenix Art Museum, and Herberger Theater Center. Other nominees included Angel Castro, Liz Ann Hewett, and Michaela Konzal.

The Music Artist Award went to Jerry Lawson, who was the sole nominee in this category.  After four decades as the lead singer for an a cappella group the Persuasions, he moved to Arizona and began working with people with developmental disabilities.

The Language Artist Award went to poet and hip-hop artist Rashaad Thomas, a formerly homeless military veteran who has collaborated with ASU's Project Humanities and Performance in the Borderlands. Other nominees included Brooke Brown and Robert Isenberg, an occasional New Times contributor

The Visual Artist Award went to Ann Morton, who is currently completing an artist residency at the Phoenix dump that includes engaging community members in creating sculptures from items discarded there. Other nominees included Cherie Buck-Hutchison, Chi Isiogu, Gennaro Garcia, Jake Lemroux, Jenita Landrum, Jim Covarrubius, Marilyn Szabo, Nicole M. McCord, Tato Caraveo, Tina Marie Ferguson, and Tomas Amaya.

The Innovative Organization Award went to Free Arts for Abused Children, which provides mentors and arts experiences for youth coping with challenges such as homelessness, domestic violence, and foster care. Other nominees included 26 Blocks, Arizona School for the Arts, Artsy Smartsy, Center Dance Ensemble, Maryvale Cre8s, Mill Avenue Chamber Players, Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix Children’s Chorus, Phoenix Film Foundation, and The Emancipation Marathon.

Another award, the Community Innovator Award, was presented to Rick Naimark, associate vice president for program development planning at ASU, where his purview includes the downtown Phoenix campus. Formerly the deputy city manager for the City of Phoenix, Naimark has been involved with numerous projects impacting the local arts scene. He's also an artist, who credits Edna Dapo of Phoenix Center for the Arts with being his first and current painting instructor. 

This year’s winners were selected by a five-member judges panel that included Gail Browne, executive director for the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture; Teniqua Broughton, CEO for VerveSimone Consulting; and Eriko Saxon Fujiyoshi, cultural arts and media specialist for the Japanese Friendship Garden. The panel also included dancer Liliana Gomez and visual artist Francisco “Enuf” Garcia, who won Mayor’s Arts Awards in 2015.

Each award winner received a unique piece of art created by a local artist who teaches classes at Phoenix Center for the Arts, including John Tzelepis (metals), Don Ridely (ceramics), Edna Dapo (painting), Wendy Willis (printmaking), David Jarvinen (mosaics), and Ingrid Donaldson (glass).

More than two dozen artists and arts organization have been recognized through the Mayor's Arts Awards since 2012. Last year’s winners included not only Gomez and Garcia, but also Ken Koshio (music), Phoenix Chinese Week (innovative organization), and Timothy Sprague (community innovator).

Previous Mayor’s Arts Awards winners also include Scorpius Dance Company, Epik Dance Company, Flamenco por la Vida, Tania Katan, Dan Hull, Downtown Chamber Series, Classical Revolution PHX, SOUNDS Academy, Rising Youth Theatre, Phonetic Spit, Space 55, Dr. Eugene Grigsby, Hugo Medina, Matthew Moore, and Jenna Raskin.

Thursday’s program included live performances by Rosie’s House, Flamenco por la Vida, and Phoenix Children’s Chorus. Cyphers provided music during the cocktail and dinner hour. Meteorologist Rich Dahlquist served as master of ceremonies, and Councilman Daniel Valenzuela of District 5, which includes West and Central Phoenix, presented the 2016 awards. Mayor Stanton, who was doing Sister Cities-related business in Taipei, Taiwan, delivered remarks via video. 

The evening also included a silent auction of table centerpieces created by local artists, and a live auction of a Phoenix-themed painting created on-site by renowned muralist Lalo Cota. Timothy Sprague, president of the Hance Park Conservancy and founding principal for the Habitat Metro real estate development firm that has several projects near Phoenix Center for the Arts, had the winning bid of more than $500. 

All event proceeds will support art programs for veterans and family members served by the Pat Tillman Veterans Center at Arizona State University, says Lauren Henschen, deputy director for Phoenix Center for the Arts. 
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble